Whether Cal State Fullerton's fraternity houses will be allowed to exist may be decided on a year-to-year basis by city officials, according to a new ordinance now in the drafting stages.
The ordinance would make fraternity houses apply for conditional use permits, which means they must comply with certain, but as yet unnamed, conditions laid out by the city, according to Paul Dudley, development services director. Every year, the fraternities would come up for review before Planning Commission members who would decide whether to either deny or renew the permits, Dudley said.
The target of continued ire from neighboring residents, fraternity men living on Teri Place have said that they have toned down on the parties, litter and noise that are the basis of the complaints.
Some fraternity members said some recent actions to mollify the neighbors have been met with what they term as harassment: a parking permit program, added police patrol on weekends, and fire and safety building inspections. If the city now wants conditional use permits, "I guarantee you they're up for a fight," said Terry Keenen, former Inter-Fraternity Council president.
"At some point, the neighbors have to realize that we've changed. We're willing to do anything to become better neighbors. But we're not going to give up our freedom to live on the (Fraternity) Row and our rights as homeowners and property taxpayers and as citizens of the community," Keenen declared.
To soften the wrath of neighbors, Keenen said some of the changes implemented in the past year by the seven fraternities near Associated Road include a ban on:
Alcohol during rush week, when fraternities hold continuous functions to recruit members.
Open parties, where anyone could simply walk in.
Noise after 12:30 a.m. on weekends and 11:30 p.m. on weekdays.
"We pretty much cut our social life to zero. We've gone out of our way to become good neighbors," Keenen said.
Dudley said he did not know what conditions would be set for the fraternities' existence. Rules that will be considered, he added, include moving all parties with more than 40 people to campus, moving rush week to campus, making fraternities pay for police response on party nights, and formalizing a litter pick-up program, which some fraternities now do on a volunteer basis.
City Manager William Winter said the rules "would stress conditions that would follow proper behavior."
Dudley said the permits are needed because "the problem doesn't go away. Every year, a new group of kids come in. We're trying to set some perimeters so that everyone knows the ground rules."
City and university officials also recently have been discussing a plan to move the fraternities to campus as a future solution to the ongoing battle between the fraternities and their neighbors.